China's consistently poor industrial and workplace safety record has led to the establishment of a national control center for coordinating work safety and rescue operations throughout the country yesterday in Beijing.
With five departments and 80 employees, the center will operate directly under the leadership of the Work Safety Committee of the State Council.
One of the center's major tasks is to formulate contingency plans, emergency procedures and rescue operations, according to Li Yizhong, head of the General Administration of Work Safety (GAWS).
He added that staff at the center are to supervise rescue and evacuation drills at enterprises and local authorities.
Enterprise senior management and heads of local governments are also required to undergo the relevant training to familiarize themselves with their duties during rescue operations.
The center is also encouraged to make available to the public information on how to handle an emergency situation.
The center will also issue a set of coordinating rules for the management of information, personnel, experts and fund guarantee for contingency rescue operations through legislation, Li said.
Experts from scientific research institutions, colleges, and associations from different sectors will also be recruited to help with research into preventing gas and chemical leaks.
According to GAWS statistics, last year there were 803,571 reports of accidents that killed 136,755 people.
In the coal mining industry alone, China reported 3,639 fatal incidents last year, with a death toll of 6,027, making it the second most dangerous industrial sector.
(China Daily February 22, 2006)